Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lemony Basil Pesto

A little clarification seems to be in order about this post, it's not about pesto made with lemon basil, it's about Genovese basil pesto made lemony with the addition of lemon peel and juice. 

The basil has been really happy with our current run of warm to hot weather and is growing like crazy. And even though I've been snipping at it nearly every day it needed a good trim before it got out of hand. What better way to use up a bunch of basil than Pesto?

Here's the basil patch before the harvest.

You can see how it is already trying to send up flower stalks. I harvested every shoot that had flower stalks that were starting to form and ended up with a little over 4 ounces of shoots.

 Here's most of the patch after the harvest, some of it was in the shade so I left that out of the photo.

All the plants ended up with a good trim like this. Not a nascent flower stalk to be found.

Another garden problem I have is a surfeit of Meyer lemons.

I am constantly reminded of this glut of lemons because I see this tree every time I look out my kitchen window.

So this batch of basil pesto has a dose of Meyer lemon in it. I added both some peel and juice. You can find the recipe on my Kitchen Notebook blog, I've noted the variation to my basic pesto recipe there.

Tonight the offering from my CSF (community supported fishery) is wild salmon. I'm going to roast it and serve it with zucchini (of course) and green beans and a big dollop of lemony basil pesto. I'm getting hungry!


  1. It looks delicious. And I envy you your lemon glut. I would love fresh lemons.

  2. Sounds delicious! I haven't grown flavored basil in a while because I havent' enjoyed it as much as genovese. Your recipe, as well as recently reading about using lemon basil in tea, is making me change my mind. Enjoy!

  3. It looks fabulous! Enjoy your salmon dinner!

  4. I'd be happy to take some of that surfeit of lemons off your hands. Wish I lived close by! Lemon basil pesto sounds just about like heaven right now.

  5. I don't believe I've ever had basil pesto with lemon. It looks and sounds delicious. But then the Meyer lemon isn't just any lemon either. I guess you could say when life give you lemons - you make pesto!

  6. Yum~~the dinner sounds delicious, wish I can grow citrus here, my meyer lemon tree and all other citrus trees were gone, I got tired of moving them in and out of the house for the winter.

  7. I have basil, but not lemons in my garden - looks amazing!

  8. Here's my solution for that surplus of Meyer Lemons- Meyer Lemon Marmalade!

    1 pound of unwaxed Meyer lemons (makes about 5 cups of chopped fruit)
    1 cup of lemon juice-about 3 additional lemons
    2 1/2 cups of water

    1. Wash and remove all dirt from lemons. Allow the lemons to sit in room temperature water for several minutes and then use a soft cloth to remove the dirt. Do not scrub off the peel! Save 3 lemons for its zest and for juicing later.
    2. Dry off the lemons and cut off both ends of each lemon. Slice each lemon in half the long way, and cut out the membrane in the middle and remove all seeds. Save the membrane and seeds-they are used for thickening the marmalade. Stuff the seeds and membrane into a cheesecloth bag and reserve. Be sure to use good quality cheesecloth so the threads do not show up in the marmalade. I know from the school of hard knocks.
    3. Once the lemons have their seeds and membranes removed, slice each lemon as thinly and evenly as possible. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sliced lemon and its juices. (Remember to use glass measuring cups.)
    4. Place the lemon slices in a non-reactive pan and add 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. This cooking softens the peel and juices up the lemon pulp.
    5. While the lemon slices are cooking, juice the 3 remaining lemons. Strain to remove seeds.
    6. Measure the cooked lemon slurry and return to the saucepan. (You should have more or less about 4 ¼ cup of slurry. )
    7. For every cup of lemon slurry, add 1 ¼ cup of sugar.
    8. Add the 1 cup of lemon juice.
    9. Place the cheesecloth bag with the lemon membrane and seeds in to the pot. Over medium heat, mix well and allow the sugar to completely dissolve. Then raise the heat higher and constantly stir to prevent scorching. Use a Rubbermaid spatula for best results. It’s easier to tell if the marmalade is scorching when using a spatula.
    10. When the lemons thicken up, use 1 tsp marmalade and a chilled plate to test if the marmalade is ready. It's ready to can when it gels.
    11. Do not overcook otherwise the lemon flavor will disappear and the marmalade will caramelize.

    Can marmalade and process per USDA instructions.

    about 4 ½ pints.

    Meyer lemon marmalade has a shelf life of 6 months. And, it best eaten on sourdough bread of any sort.

    Good luck,
    (PS Thanks for all your caper information. My caper plants are now 4 years old and I get all the capers I need every year. Now, I just got to come up with a way to propagate them for others!


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